You shall have no other gods before (besides) Me;

You shall not make for yourself an idol (or carved or graven image);

You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain…

Honor your father and your mother;

You shall not murder;

You shall not commit adultery;

You shall not steal;

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor;

You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor your neighbor’s house, nor anything that is                             your neighbor’s (belongs to your neighbor).

                                    (Exodus 20:3-17 & Deut. 5:7-21)

Things that the LORD hates; that are an abomination to Him (His soul):

Haughty eyes (a proud look);

A lying tongue;

Hands that shed innocent blood;

A heart that devises wicked (evil) plans;

Feet that run rapidly (are swift in running) to evil;

A false witness who speaks (utters) lies;

One who sows discord (spreads strife) among brethren.

                                                (Proverbs 6:16-19)

Blessed are the poor in spirit (humble or not spiritually arrogant);

Blessed are those who mourn;

Blessed are the gentle (meek);

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness;

Blessed are the merciful;

Blessed are the pure in heart;

Blessed are the peacemakers (for they shall be called Sons of God);

Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness;

Blessed are you when others insult (revile) and persecute you…because of Me.

                                                (Matthew 5:3-11)

It seems to me that these three sets of Holy Scriptures provide all the framework we need to live a rich, moral life. These commandments, or edicts, and principles provide the basis for the world to live a Godly life of righteousness. No other framework is needed to not only please God but also to get along with others and treat others decently, fairly, and with dignity. If only the world would recognize that God set the standard for behavior that would bring about and maintain peace and harmony throughout all of mankind. It’s sad that there are so many groups and individuals that argue, fuss, and fight while trying to develop and set new behavioral standards for everyone when God has already established the best, complete, living standard that is needed — for all times! As God’s people, we need to continually pray that it will be God’s will and His standard of morality that reigns supreme throughout mankind! May the Good LORD continue to bless us as we live for HIM!

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During this seemingly endless tumultuous period and the raging chaos in our Country, here are a few scriptures that I believe we can meditate upon to help us as we try to endure and persevere through these times of uncertainty:

Psalm 1: Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked (ungodly), nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scoffers (scornful); but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree, planted by the channels (streams/rivers) of water, which brings forth its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither; and he prospers in all that he does. The ungodly (wicked) are not so, but are like chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore, the wicked shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation (assembly) of the righteous. For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

Psalm 2: Why do the nations rage and the people plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, ‘Let us tear (break) their bonds (fetters) apart and cast away their cords from us.’ He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the LORD scoffs at them (holds them in derision). Then He will speak to them in His wrath (anger), and terrify them in His fury, saying…‘I have installed My King on My holy hill of Zion”…Serve (worship) the LORD with reverence (fear), and rejoice with trembling…

Psalm 11: In the LORD I put my trust (take refuge)…The wicked bend their bow; they make ready their arrow on the string that they may shoot secretly (in darkness) at the upright in heart…the LORD’s throne is in heaven; His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons (children) of men. The LORD tests the righteous and the wicked, but the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates. Upon the wicked He will rain coals (of fire); fire and brimstone and a burning wind will be the portion of their cup. For the LORD is righteous, He loves righteousness; the upright will behold His face.

Romans 13:1-3: Let every person (soul) be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God…and whoever resists…will bring (receive) judgment (condemnation) on themselves…for it (authority) is a minister of God for good…for he is God’s servant…an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the one(s) who practice(s) evil…Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath, but for conscience’ sake…

Phil 2:7&8: (He)…emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

1st John 1:7: but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.

While it is true that we have a responsibility to God to be good citizens of our Country, we must never forget that FIRST AND FOREMOST we are citizens of the KINGDOM OF GOD! God will take care of us - His children - as long as we continue to put our unwavering trust in Him. We will be all right no matter what happens here!

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   In the physical world if we neglect to take care of our yards, fill our gas tanks, or take care of our bodies, we will soon reap the negative consequences of such carelessness. These thoughtless acts, while sometimes serious, do not have eternal costs. Spiritual negligence, however, is much more serious and can yield dire everlasting results.

   In Matthew 23:23, Jesus warns his listeners of neglecting the commandments. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.” While tithing was required of God’s people in order to be obedient, the things of the heart, justice, mercy, and faithfulness, speak to the character of a person and are here called the “weightier” provisions of the law. In other words, none of God’s laws should be neglected, but especially those that imitate the character of God (justice, mercy, faithfulness).

   In Acts 6, we read of the early church neglecting the needs of the Hellenistic widows in the daily distribution of food. When this situation was brought to the attention of the apostles, spiritual men were immediately chosen to remedy this situation. The neglect was addressed. In Luke 16, Jesus relates the account of Lazarus and the rich man. The rich man had all the physical signs of wealth, but he failed to take notice or care for this poor man who was covered in sores and laid at his gate each day hoping for the scraps of the wealthy man’s table. He neglected the poor and his outcome was disastrous.

   It is so easy in our busy lives to begin to neglect the things God wants us to do, however, now is the time to take notice of this sin in our lives, repent, and be about the business of the Lord. The following are some of the ways we may be neglectful in our Christian walk: 1. Singing. Colossians 3:16 says, “Let the word of Christ dwell within you, with all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with all thankfulness in your hearts to God.” It is sad to say, but in our own assembly I have noticed Christians who seem to be half heartedly singing or not attempting to sing at all. This should not be. The Bible teaches that singing not only praises God, but it uplifts the singer and encourages others. Let’s all make it our goal to pay attention to the words of our songs and sing them with praise in our hearts to the Lord. 2. Restoring weak members. Galatians 6:1 states, “Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentlenesss…” The account of the Good Shepherd demonstrates the truth of the importance of each soul when the Shepherd leaves the 99 safe sheep to go out and find the one lost lamb. 3. Praying. Colossians 4:2. “Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving. 4. Bible study. Hosea 4:6, “My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge…” To obey the commandments, we must know them. 5. To control our tongue. James 3: 5-12.

   We have been given the greatest gift, Salvation. We need to cherish it, be thankful for it, and remain faithful to it. In Hebrews 2:2-3, states it so well. “For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?”

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Sometimes the best way to illustrate a point is through the telling of a life situation that the listeners are able to understand. Jesus demonstrated this teaching method by the use of parables. When we speak of forgiveness of sins, an excellent biblical example is the narrative we call The Prodigal Son. In Luke 15, the Lord relates the case of a father and his two sons. The younger son comes to his father demanding his share of the inheritance. The father grants this son’s wish and the son departs “into a distant country” where he “squandered his estate in loose living.” When his wealth is spent, the son finds himself reduced to one of the most repulsive jobs a Jew could have, feeding pigs. Not only is he tending swine, he is so hungry he contemplates eating with the pigs. Luke 15:17 tells us, “When he came to his senses” he decides to return home, repent of his foolish sinfulness, and beg to be employed as a servant. While he is on the road home, the text relates one of the most heartwarming and encouraging scriptures in the Bible. ”And he (the son) got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him, and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him, and kissed him.” Luke 15:20. The repentant one is generously welcomed home and treated as a son.

 

Many lessons can be drawn from these passages, but we will address two here. Under Jewish law, the oldest son was to receive a double portion of the father’s inheritance at the father’s death. When this second son comes and asks for his portion, in essence he is wishing the father to be dead so he can get what is coming to him. How this must have grieved the father, but he grants the son’s wish and the son leaves his home. I am sure that for a time, this son enjoyed the pleasures of sin, his new found “friends,” and playing the role of an important man. However, this situation did not last forever. With the loss of his money went the loss of his fair-weather companions and he found himself in the depths of despair, the likes of which he had never known. However, hope for his redemption was not dead, because while he was at his lowest, the Bible tells us he finally “came to his senses.” When the child of God chooses to go away from the safety and security of a loving and faithful God, we are not using good sense. How unwise we are to leave our loving Father to sink into the pits of worldliness, but we do it all the time, because sin can be so alluring! The answer to this problem is to return home, repent, and renew our lives of faithfulness. There is NO other solution to sin. In John 6:68, when the Lord asked Peter if he would “go away” from him, Peter replies, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Don’t bother looking to other solutions to sin, there are none. A second beautiful truth found in these verses is the father’s response to his son’s homecoming. While the son was on the road home, the father sees and recognizes his wayward child while “he was a long way off…” The father had kept a vigilant watch and a hope in his heart that his son might possibly return home. He runs to meet this previously ungrateful son, embraces him, kisses him, clothes him, and calls for a celebration. This father’s response mirrors the character of our heavenly Father. He is saddened by our disobedience, but overjoyed at our repentance. 2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” What a wonderful God we serve!

 

If and when we find ourselves lured into sin, we must stop and “come to our senses” and repent. God will gladly and graciously welcome us back. It is the only solution for success in this life and the life to come. The wise king Solomon put it so well in Ecclesiastes 12:13 when he said, “The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments for this is the whole duty of man.” Are you doing your duty?

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Remember the game from our childhood, Hide-and-Seek?  With sweaty palms and a racing heart, it was a thrill to have “It” walk right by you as you froze and held your breath for fear of being discovered.  Now, the fun of the game is replaced with frustration when I unintentionally “hide” the remote control, my keys, and reading glasses.  These are physical examples of hiding, but what about trying to hide our sins from God.

 

The very first book of the Bible (Genesis 3) tells of Adam and Eve attempting to hide themselves in their garden paradise after they listened to the old serpent and disobeyed God by partaking of the forbidden fruit.  When the Lord called the man, Adam’s reply was, “I heard the sound of Thee in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” Since that time, we have numerous biblical examples of people foolishly thinking they can conceal their transgressions.  In Joshua 6, we have the account of Achan not heeding the Lord’s command and stealing spoils from the battle of Jericho.  He mistakenly thought he could hide his loot in his tent and no one would be the wiser.  However, not only does Achan eventually lose his life over this transgression, but many others’ lives are lost as well.  King David tried to cover his sin with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband Uriah, but it was not to be.  Not only did Uriah die, but the innocent baby that was conceived from this adulterous relationship also perished.  God tells David through Nathan the prophet, “Why have you despised the word of the Lord by doing evil in His sight?” 2 Samuel 12:9.   David’s further punishment was that the sword (evil and heartbreak), “shall never depart from your house because you have despised me…”  Other examples of people thinking to hide sins are the brothers of Joseph trying to hide their misdeed of selling their brother from their father, Moses trying the hide the Egyptian he killed in the sand, Ananias and Sapphira’s lies to the Holy Spirit about the money they received from the selling of a field, etc. 

 

Sometimes we deceive ourselves into thinking that God is like man and if we do things in secret or in the dark, He will not see us.  Psalm 139 is a powerful telling of the omnipresent nature and power of our heavenly Father.  The seventh verse of the above mentioned chapter asks the question, “Where can I go from Thy Spirit?  Or where can I flee from Thy presence?”  The psalmist eloquently answers, Nowhere. 

 

Sometimes we rename sins to make them sound less offensive.  Lies are fibs, fornication and adultery are affairs, and using the Lord’s name in vain and swearing is slang.  No matter what we might choose to call these acts, the Bible calls them sin.  Sin is like a spiritual cancer.  It can grow within us and eventually lead to our spiritual separation from God if we do not remove it from our lives. 

 

So, what are we to do?  1 John 1:10 states that we all have sinned, but our loving God has not left us without a remedy.  1 John 2:2 states that Jesus is the answer to our sin problem, and if we confess those sins, “He is faithful and righteous to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

 

Hebrews 4:13 says, “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.”  Our Creator knew we would fall under the lure of sin, but He so graciously paid the high cost and made a way for us to come back to Him – the precious blood of Christ.  When we sin, as we will, we must humbly confess those errors and turn away from them and be restored to the favor of our heavenly Father.  Thank you, Lord for your mercy and grace.  What a loving God we serve!

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